Four Midshipmen Spend Summer Internship at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division
POSTED ON: Thursday, July 15, 2021 1:07 PM by Teri Carnicelli
PORT HUENEME, Ca. - Four midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland wrapped up their internship June 23 with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD), where they worked on different technology initiatives and toured nearby naval facilities to learn what options are available to them after graduation.
This is the first time in more than a decade that the command has received midshipmen interns from the USNA, according to a school official.
“This current internship is hosted by Program Executive Office, Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS), and has been sited at the Washington Navy Yard in previous years; this year it moved to Port Hueneme,” explained Maddie Flayler from USNA Public Affairs.
For Fiscal Year 2021, the NSWC PHD Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) program actively sought to expand collaborations with institutions of higher learning, said Phillip Bond, the command’s NISE program manager.
Three of the four interns, USNA Midshipmen 1st Class Bryson Ogden and Nicholas Forys, and Midshipman 2nd Class Christophe Descour, worked with NSWC PHD’s Office of Technology (00T), under Bond’s direction.
Ogden, who is from Antrim, Ohio, is a mechanical engineering major with strong interests in engines and car mechanics/dynamics. Forys, a native of Los Angeles County, is an honors robotics and controls engineering major who has experience with target-recovery mechanisms aboard unmanned underwater vehicles. Descour, also a robotics and control engineering major, is from Herndon, Virginia. He is interested in biomechanics and working with unmanned vehicles.
Program managers from several Naval Sea Systems Command PEO IWS offices conducted a webinar on June 22 with the three midshipmen, discussing the role of PEO IWS in the Navy and their weapons programs.
The fourth intern, Midshipman 1st Class Nick DiNofrio, assisted the command’s In-Service Engineering Agent (ISEA) of the Future program team, working with Tami Van Wezel, senior analyst, and Seth Bourn, engineering lead. DiNofrio is a Linwood, New Jersey native majoring in electrical engineering and has an interest in fiber optic sensors.
“The midshipmen were selected based on their academics and professional interest as well as their maturity in participating in this internship independently,” said Allison Webster-Giddings, PEO IWS research engineer in the Weapons, Robotics and Control Engineering Department at USNA. She served as the midshipmen’s faculty sponsor.
“NSWC PHD has provided excellent support to this year’s midshipmen,” she added.
00T tasked the three midshipmen to design a robotics obstacle course with challenges a robot would face on a surface vessel.
“This required the midshipmen to research commercially available robot kits, and determine an appropriate scale,” Bond explained. “Then they had to research the size of a representative ship for movement up and down stairs, opening/closing hatch door and similar activities.”
Odgen, who had worked with 3D modeling in a prior school semester, helped design the course on a computer. He also brainstormed with Forys and Descour, first drawing different design ideas on a whiteboard. They conducted their research and designing largely at the command’s offsite Fathomwerx Lab at the Port of Hueneme.
The midshipmen also held a preliminary design review with faculty and students from the school of dynamic systems, controls and robotics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“We’re pretty happy with the design we came up with,” Forys said. “We worked with the design of one hatch, including the opening and closing mechanism, and also one set of ladder stairs.”
Descour said that their intent was to design a basic model that could be extrapolated to additional hatches and stairs, as needed, to build a full obstacle course for a robot to navigate. Bond said 00T’s intent is to eventually build the physical obstacle course.
DiNofrio, the fourth midshipmen, participated in the virtual ISEA of the Future Data Science Forum June 8-10 and spoke on fiber optic sensors to a diverse audience from across the warfare center enterprise. He also took part in the ISEA of the Future team’s ongoing efforts to transition lidar-scanning technology to Navy ships.
“The midshipman used his time with the ISEA of the Future team to network, explore and learn about a wide swath of the Navy’s ISEA and technology communities,” Bourn said.
DiNofrio toured Naval Bases Point Loma, San Diego, Coronado Island, and North Island with Bourn and Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Leslie, who served as all four midshipmen’s military liaison while the interns were at NSWC PHD.
DiNofrio said he enjoyed getting exposure to and making connections with different research labs and tying in the work they do to the needs of the fleet.
While at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC), all four midshipmen met with leadership at the Engineering Duty Officer School, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command and Naval Air Station Point Mugu. They also toured the Center for Seabees, the Defense Acquisition University and NSWC PHD’s Self Defense Test Ship—the Navy’s only remote-controlled fully operational warship.
“NBVC is home to a number of key activities that help sustain naval capabilities,” Bond said. “Having an awareness of the important work personnel perform and the role of civilians in force sustainment will, in my view, make them better junior officers.”
NSWC PHD, in turn, greatly benefitted from the midshipmen’s fresh set of eyes, Bond said.
“The midshipmen are the beneficiaries of some of the best training and education available,” he said. “We think we’ll be able to develop a better capability because of their involvement.”
Their visit was part of the USNA Internship Program, which offers approximately 120 host opportunities to more than 500 midshipmen each summer. In 2019, approximately 570 midshipmen filled internship slots through this program. Because of COVID-19 travel and social distancing restrictions, the number of participating interns dropped in 2020, as did the number of host sites. A little more than 400 midshipmen will fill slots for the 2021 program.
According to the USNA Internship Program website, these opportunities within federal and military facilities and labs, academic institutions and commercial industry locations are intended to inspire midshipmen by broadening their leadership experiences, developing their critical thinking skills, and deepening their appreciation for practical applications of their academic studies.
Four Midshipmen from U.S. Naval Academy Spend Summer Internship at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division by Teri Cernicelli. Photo by Jhon Parsons.